It’s hard to imagine a weekend in New England’s Spring and Summer without one village or another playing host to an arts & Crafts mxl tv. I love to wander down the aisles inspecting the local artist works and seeing all the different creative offerings and themes. Often, I’ll stop and talk with the booth owner and see how they like the show…. Imagine what it would be like to exhibit your paintings at a local arts and craft show….
Yesterday, we talked about the ins and outs of conducting a successful art show with a benefit or fundraiser or charity event. Today, its a traditional, for profit show I’d like to talk about. Seems to me we all like to visit these shows until someone says……” Hey, you should sell your stuff. You’re really good!”
Besides flattery, we’ll visit art shows and think, hey I can do this…. And why not? We don’t have to make a living as an artist to exhibit at these shows. Just making a happy buck is all the motivation we need.
I will caution you to carefully consider which paintings to bring. The best, all time hits are either paintings of local scenes, or a common theme. A common theme could be all seascapes, or all lighthouses, or all wildlife, etc… You’ll need to research the show to decide what might work best for you.
Same question for any potential art show. You have to do your research. Go on-line and look up art shows and festivals directories and find as many in your area that you can. Look them over and again, the questions to ask are:
1. What’s the art show’s attendance for the past 3 years? History will give you an idea whether or not this show is growing or declining in popularity.
2. What’s the history for vendors? How many first time vendors? How many repeat vendors? This quickly lets you know whether or not other vendors have considered this event worth attending.
3. Often show organizers will schedule a dozen shows throughout the region over the season that they call a circuit. See if the same vendors attend each tradeshow in the circuit. Many artists make an entire year’s income just in the short season by signing up for all of the shows within one organizer’s circuit. Check it out. It’s not hard to see a show travel one weekend to Tucson, AZ, Next to LA, then to Phoenix, than to Santa Fe, then to El Passo, then to Las Vegas and so forth. You know when an artist signs up for all of the shows on a single circuit, this is high income for him/her. So be sure to check it out.
4. Talk to other artists and vendors to get their reaction. Will they sign-up again next year? How many years have they exhibited. What makes this show unique for them?
5. What kind of publicity promotional programs are being done by the organizers? Estimated attendance this year? What’s the major drawing power of the show….or what compels people to take time off during their valuable weekend to come to this particular show.
6. What’s the average cost of items offered by other vendors? (Why? Because if you’re trying to sell $175.00 paintings and all other vendors are selling $15.00 items, its the wrong crowd for you…)
Furthermore, You will find listings of the art and craft shows listed in these publication. More importantly, artists that attended the craft show in previous years share their insights and reviews of their past shows. These artists discuss the types of items that sold well, what price point did well, and rate if they would attend the show again. Find the show that matches your work!
* Often, show organizers have a ‘show manual’ that lists rules, union obligations, if any, and advanced forms that must be filled out/submitted by certain dates to acquire electricity, signs, set-up times, etc… Ask about them and ensure you’ve followed all instructions accordingly. Not all shows have them, just find out.
* Determine the types of payment methods you’ll accept. The more you have, the more likely you’ll sell. Options include Cash, Credit Cards, Checks, COD, PayPal and so forth. Again, planning will help you out. Bring sales receipts and order forms. Check out sales tax collection policies and how this is to be paid. If you’re already a business, you may have these answers. If its just you, then see what show management offers or make an arrangement with a neighboring exhibitor for credit cards, etc… The key is planning and making these decisions ahead of time.
* Send out invitations twice. First, 3 or 4 months in advance to all the people on your mailing and email list. Announce your participation, dates, times and that you’ll be offering a show special (Don’t tell them what it is, just that it will blow their socks off and its only offered during the show.) The second invitation is 4-6 weeks prior to the event as a reminder. Email your invitations again your list two weeks prior and the monday prior the show. Make sure each invitation is a complete re-write and doesn’t look like the others.